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Investigating the strange goings-on at "The Metabolic Institute."

I had to go into the doctor yesterday to have some tests done. The first
one was on the cardiac echocardiogram, which is very cool in that you
can look at the monitor and see real-time images of portions of your
beating heart. Sometimes you can tell what the cross-hairs on the
monitor are zooming in on, like when you see a valve opening and
closing. Sometimes it's more difficult to tell exactly what you are
looking at. As the technician zoomed in on one area, for example, I
noticed that it kind of looked like a hungry baby bird in a nest, with
its neck crammed up and its mouth open for food. I have no idea how the
baby bird got into my heart. Must have been while I was on vacation or
something.

Then another technician came in and went to work putting on the 24-hour
monitor they wanted me to take home with me. She put the pads on the
various places on my chest and then wired me up. Then we got my shirt on
and stuck the wires out between two of the buttons in front and tucked
the shirt in. The wires were connected to a thing that looked like an old
cassette Walkman, complete with nylon case and neck strap. By the time
it was all over with I looked like a Palestinian suicide bomber, and I
found myself wondering what the cops downtown at the Transit terminal
would make of it.

Then I went down from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor, which in the
Deaconess Doctor's Building is actually the street-level floor, to get
some blood drawn. While I was waiting my turn at the little lab I walked
the hall a bit. There by the entrance to the building was a kind of
schematic map of the DD building showing each floor and what was located
on it. There was no schematic for the 1st floor, which is a parking
area. There was a schematic for each of floors 2 through 5; then another
schematic representing floors 7-10 inclusive.

Now in case you're wondering to yourself "what happened to the 6th
floor?" well, that was exactly what I started asking myself. Maybe the
architects screwed up and forgot the 6th floor, I thought. But that
didn't seem likely. So I walked down to the elevators, pushed the up
button, and when an elevator arrived I held the door and peeked inside.
There was indeed a button to the 6th floor. With that I went back to
the blood lab so as to not miss my turn.

While they were drawing the blood I asked them if they knew what was on
the 6th floor. "Something or other" was the best they could come up
with. After they were done I was finished for the day. So I returned
to the elevators and rode one up to the 6th floor. They had a list there
next to the elevators of what was on the floor. I took out my notebook
and wrote them down.

FAMILY HEALTH CENTER
DEACONESS PREVENTIVE CARDIOLOGY
THE METABOLIC INSTITUTE

Now the first two seemed kind of straight-forward. But The Metabolic
Institute? Hmmm, that seemed kind of a strange one. I imagined some
shadow-government secret laboratory named The Metabolic Institute where
they work on analysing alien DNA found at Roswell. Like something from
The X-files.

I kept wondering about it. And since I had to go back today and take the
Walkman-monitor back in anyway, I thought that I would check it out. I'm
not exactly Agent Fox Muldar, but on the other hand I do write private-
eye fiction. And as Pat Maginess might do I decided to find out exactly what
the hell was going on at "The Metabolic Institute."

I took the elevator up to the 6th floor. I walked up to Room 660. The
narrow pane of glass to the right of the door seemed rather dim, like the
lights were out and the office was closed, but I tried the knob anyway.
Unlike Pat Maginess I wasn't packing a trusty .38 Smith. All I had were
my wits and about eight months of unused experience learned in the Boy
Scouts of America. I slowly opened the door.

It was a really nice office. The lights were down low, probably for
"Christmas purposes" with the nice Christmas decorations and all. All
seemed normal. But that, of course, is exactly what a secret government
lab would want you to think. I walked up to the receptionist counter.
There was nobody at the counter, so I helped myself to a brochure from the
"Institute" that was lying there. It seemed legit enough if the brochure
was to be believed — but then again it's easy to be fooled.

A great-looking ash-blonde of my own approximate age showed up. She was
wearing a brown sweater and brown slacks and had RN written all over
her. She asked if she could help me. I thought of a couple ways that she
could help me, but didn't mention them. "Not really" I told her. "I was
just wondering what this place was." We talked a bit, and she directed
me to the pamphlets and said that there was a good web-site listed on
back. Then I asked her if they did any research there on alien DNA or
anything like that, trying my best to grin and not seem insane. She
smiled back, and said no, they didn't do anything like that.

As Pat Maginess would say, sometimes you have to go with your gut. And
my gut told me that she was being straight-up.

In any case, if you want to know what The Metabolic Institute really
does — okay, MIGHT really do — you can check out their web site.

On the other hand, if they are a secret government lab, they will most
likely be coming after me now. So if you don't hear from me for a good
while, please contact Agent Fox Muldar c/o the FBI. He'll have to take
it from there.